Gearing Up for Grants: Grant Writing Tips

Runaway and Homless Youth (RHY) Basic Center Program (BCP) and Street Outreach Program (SOP) funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) are expected to be available any time now. NSPN is eagerly waiting and ready to support you.  While you wait, take a moment to review some writing tips and reminders below. If you have questions, feel free to contact us at [email protected]. You may also give us a call at 502.635.3660.

Tips for Grant Writing - Getting Started

Here are a few tips related to creating effective funding proposals. From start to finish, there are some common practices that can help keep you and others around you from GRT – Grant Related Trauma:

Do the pre-work

  • Update organizational chart.
  • Update all resumes and create different versions from full, to one page, to mini versions.
  • Update position descriptions with language reflecting best practice – youth development, trauma informed care, and, others.
  • Create useful Letters of Agreement that are serviceable across multiple proposals.

Engage others

  • Ensure everyone has a role to play in the application. Asking for thoughts, proof-reading, creating graphics, building budgets – different skill sets are needed and people like to be involved.
  • Gather support documents from community partners. This process helps them understand your needs and how they can assist.

Follow Directions

  • If you do every application the same way – you may not be experiencing as much success as you would like.
  • Federal applications are different than foundation asks which are different than state proposals. Even across federal departments, the expectations can vary.
  • If a potential funder asks for something 10 times – give it to them 10 times.
  • Most funders ask for specific information presented in a certain way for a reason. If you ignore their requests, the funder may think you will ignore other aspects of their expectations.
  • Provide evidence that you pay attention and are willing to do it their way.

Keep it in Perspective

  • Everyone is seeking money and there are only so many funding sources that support what your organization does.
  • You are one piece of the puzzle. The picture only becomes clear if all the pieces fit. If a funder doesn’t think you are a “fit” – you may belong to a different puzzle.

Things to Remember  

Once you've read the new FOA(s), take a look at the tips below for additional information for completing your proposal:

Start Fresh

Each year, Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) revises the FOAs. Be sure to review your new FOA before getting started and note any changes from the previous year. If you are an Organizational Development package member, NSPN will do this for you.

While it might be tempting to simply copy and paste your previous proposal and update, think again. It is best to start fresh. It’s fine to use an old Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) and agreements, but you want to make sure the content is fresh, your data are current, and position descriptions are the most recent.

Manage Your Time  

Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your proposal or upload your application. Create a schedule and stick to it. Make sure your schedule includes time for NSPN to review your proposal. Start collecting support letters early.

Plan Now for Self-Care

While writing your proposal, it can be tempting to skip a meal, forgo a five-minute stretch or walk, and miss out on sleep. Not only is self-care important to your health, it also plays a factor in the success of your proposal. Those who practice self-care while writing tend to have better proposals — and better outcomes.

Here are some self-care tips to consider. Planning how you will practice self-care before you start your process will help you avoid the temptation to skip out.

  • Do some grocery shopping — having nutritious snacks readily available will help keep you healthy.
  • Get your playlist ready — sometimes taking a five-minute break to listen to a song will help refresh your mind.
  • Place your walking shoes by the door — taking a walk outside to get some fresh air will help improve your mood and get your creative juices flowing.
  • Stand up and stretch — stretching (even if it’s at your desk) can help the flow of oxygen within your body.  Here’s a great article from webMD entitled “Stretching Exercises at Your Desk: 12 Simple Tips”:
  • Develop your self-care plan — The School of Social Work of the University at Buffalo created a guide that offers some great tips: “Developing Your Self-Care Plan.” This guide even includes a “Self-Care Assessment.”
  • Talk to yourself — Last year we shared a printout you can use when you start to feel overwhelmed, doubt yourself, or just want a “pick-me-up.” Tear off and read aloud one of your great characteristics! Feel free to share this with a colleague:


Don't forget — NSPN members with the Organizational Development package have access to a number of benefits, including funding proposal reviews and consultations. Also, stay tuned for details about upcoming webinars outlining the FOA for each program type. Be sure to take advantage of this special opportunity.

Don’t have the Organizational Development package? Learn more at:, or you can join today at

NSPN is here to help. Let us know as soon as possible if you plan to use our grant review services. These services are ONLY available to NSPN members with the Organizational Development package. You have made NSPN your network, and we are committed to meeting your needs. If you would like to verify your membership status, contact NSPN at [email protected] or call 502.635.3660.

Watch for more NSPN “Gearing up for Grants” emails. Not getting the Gearing Up for Grants series or other NSPN communications?  Sign up today at You may also visit and/or contact us at [email protected] if you have questions.

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